Adults and Adolescents
It is normal for an adolescent or adult who has experienced Sexual Assault to suffer one or all of the following affects or symptoms:-
- Sleeplessness, tossing and turning
- A quick startle response; feeling jumpy; checking and re-checking things
- An overwhelming feeling of being unsafe or trusting no one
- Headaches, nausea, dizziness and memory loss
- Feeling fidgety, unable to keep on task at home, study or work
- Staring out the window; having a blank mind or sometimes the opposite
- Thoughts going through your mind “like a washing machine in spin cycle’
- Feeling numb
- Feeling angry
- Feeling “unclean”
- Feeling alone and fearing being judged
Sometimes ‘Flash backs” occur of vivid or explicit memories or snapshots of what has happened e.g.: Feeling that you can hear, smell, or even feel the weight of the perpetrator.
Victims of Sexual Assault or those that care for them may also notice that their behaviours have changed or that they are doing things which are ‘out of character’ or possibly alarming.
Victims of Sexual Assault may also be: –
- Drinking too much
- Turning to drugs to cope
- Unable to go to work, look after themselves or their everyday needs including hygiene
- Unable to get out of bed and following their normal routine in life
- Self-harming – “cutting”; pulling out lumps of hair and eyelashes; picking at their skin or other types of self harm
- Having suicidal thoughts – thoughts about not being able to go on with life; wanting to end the pain and chaos inside.
Child victims of Sexual Assault
We offer telephone support and counselling to women, men and adolescents – who have been sexually assaulted – whether recently or in the distant past, and for anyone who is concerned or suspects a child or adolescent they care about might have been assaulted or abused.
If your child or adolescent under 18 years has suffered sexual assault, we can provide support and advice about what to do next…
It doesn’t matter whether the assault took place today, last week or twenty years ago; our experienced telephone counsellors provide a sensitive, non –judgmental service; listening to your story and assessing your individual situation before deciding on the best advice and support to offer you.
In the case of a very recent assault, not only can we assist with immediate emotional support, but importantly we can provide practical advice about forensic and medical examination, health risks, local services you can access, as well as the appropriate legal course of action to take and your reporting obligations.
When a child has been sexually assaulted, there is a mandatory requirement to report to the Child Protection Intervention Unit at specified Police Stations. The Police who speak with you and your child are not uniformed Police, but special officers who are trained to work with children. We will assist you in locating the appropriate station, and connecting with police to make the appointment.
After sexual assault a child or adolescent may:-
- Be unable to sleep – tossing and turning
- Suffer nightmares
- Want to sleep in parents’ bed which is out of character for the child
- Be clingy or become very distressed when parents are out of sight, when the child is normally independent
- Be fidgety and unable to stay on task at home or at school
- Daydreaming or distracted
- Becoming withdrawn when the child is normally outgoing
- Start slipping school grades
- Teachers at school noticing disruption in class or changed behaviours
- Be having angry outbursts
- Be crying when normally a happy child
- Develop nocturnal enuresis – bed-wetting; if in nappies – a much heavier nappy than usual or if toilet-trained, out of character behaviour.
- Develop inability to control bladder and bowel
- Begins to speak about or display sexualised activity beyond their developmental thought processes or life experience to generate or understand
The State-wide Sexual Assault Line on 1800 010 120 will support you with your questions about your child’s behaviour or anything they may have talked about or suggested.